Case Study: "Virtual Made it Possible"

Gail Davis, 30 June 2020

Case Study
Burgundy Asset Management, Ltd.

Burgundy Asset Management, Ltd. is a global discretionary investment manager. The company has a five-year history with GDA Speakers. Executive Vice President and COO Robert Sankey originally reached out in 2015 to inquire about booking a specific speaker, Nando Parrado. He expressed interest in bringing Nando in to speak at a corporate event.  Unfortunately, the timing of Nando’s travels and the various event opportunities at Burgundy never matched up. Gail and Robert continued to stay in touch several times a year.
On March 25, 2020, Robert reached out with this request (slightly edited for clarity):
I thought I'd check in with you to see if any of the speakers you represent are doing anything innovative and/or contemplating online presentations in light of our current reality. Our people at Burgundy could certainly use a bit of wind in their sails if this lasts more than a few more weeks. If there is a scaled down/online and cost-effective option, we might be interested in exploring it. Let me know what ideas you have.
Gail immediately thought of Nando. She sent Nando a quick email and asked him what he thought about taking on a speaking engagement using Zoom. Nando’s reply was priceless, “What’s Zoom?”
The next day Nando sent Gail an email with the subject line: Zoom Plan. He had given it some thought and was ready to try something new.
Normally, Nando’s presentation includes two videos and over 52 slides. The presentation requires a detailed sound check. It gives the audience a true experience of what happened in the Andes Mountains. Plus, having Nando appear in person is of great value with the additional element of having him taking selfies, signing books and engaging with attendees. How would this translate to a virtual environment?
Nando’s new Zoom Plan was straightforward (slightly edited for clarity):
Hi Boss,
I have installed Zoom, and your idea may work.
As a TV producer and scriptwriter for my documentaries, I have designed a plan that could work for Zoom conferences. My idea is as follows:
  1. Introduction of Nando by a company representative. It will need to be short.
  2. Nando speaks for a maximum of five minutes explaining who I am.
  3. Presentation video plays..
  4. Nando speaks for 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Then hosted Q&A.
In all, the whole video conference should not last more than one hour.
Gail called Robert back with the plan for Burgundy Asset Management, Ltd. The contract was signed within two weeks of the original inquiry, and the event took pace just four days later…it was a hit!
The experience was shocking for both Nando and Gail. Over Zoom, each person had a front row seat and it was surprising to see the level of intimacy that was created on that Zoom call. Additionally, the interaction during the Q&A was fantastic. 
Best of all, was the note Gail received from Robert the day after the event (slightly edited for clarity):
I had known about Nando Parrado’s story for a long time. I was first introduced to it by the movie Alive. I then read his book Miracle in the Andes. And you know for a number of years, I’d wanted to get Nando in front of my team to share his message of resilience, courage and hope. But we could never quite get the logistics to work. 
The extreme adversity facing the world right now prompted me to think of Nando again recently - probably as I was looking for some inspiration and perspective. It seemed like a perfect time for us to hear Nando’s story and I was so grateful when he agreed to engage the team in a virtual setting. It did not disappoint! Despite not being a typical live event in a physical sense, it felt very up close, personal and interactive. An incredible story told by an incredibly genuine human being. A highly impactful session that will not soon be forgotten by any of our team. 
  - Rob Sankey, CEO, Burgundy Asset Management Ltd., Toronto, Canada
What a collaboration!  GDA is now regularly booking Nando for virtual events.  He is no longer limited by distance or having to organize time to travel.  It is giving people all over the world front row access to Nando and his inspiring story, and his message resonates loud and clear now more than ever.